Album Reviews

No Sinner

Old Habits Die Hard

Artist:     No Sinner

Album:     Old Habits Die Hard

Label:     Mascot

Release Date:     05/20/2016


No Sinner my ass. One look at Colleen Rennison in her shorty shorts dispels all notions of a goody two-shoes. Especially when you watch her in the video for the incredibly tantalizing—visually and musically—“Boo Hoo Hoo” from No Sinner’s 2013 debut. Everybody knows sex sells like the devil. This Canadian former child actress seals the deal even before she opens her mouth. But then she does, and sings like a wickedly pissed off angel. Strong and soulful-gritty, with beautiful range, Rennison’s voice nails you to the floor. So does the music. No Sinner plays like a cross between Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple melding with the players in a dive on Chicago’s West Side in the 1970s. Thus, “Leadfoot” should have opened the album with its rhythmically inventive stop and go, hard as bullets blues, and Rennison’s statement of here the hell I am.

Right away the considerable swagger factor gets surpassed by sheer musicality. “Saturday Night” gets lit up by huge power chords as it barrels down a speedway, straight and true the whole quick hair-raising ride. In the harrowing “Hollow,” Rennison gets inside the head of a lost soul, tapping ingeniously into a societal ill. Back to the sex. Every word in “Get It Up,” from “lick” to “knees” to “taste,” defines the kind of innuendo-propelled rock all the young dudes used to make back in the day. But in “Friend of Mine,” Rennison proves herself a modern day soul shouter of blistering authority. The one atypical tune here, “Lines on the Highway,” furthers the kind of music Rennison cut for her solo album two years ago, where she went all rootsy and charming, and which worked really, really well. But then the molten black “Mandy Lyn” taps into the gender I.D. deal and brings the whole monster back into focus. No Sinner’s quite an ironic name for these incredible rockers. How fatefully convenient is it that Rennison’s name spelled backward spells it out. Those longhorns she’s holding on her head on the album cover speak volumes.

-Tom Clarke

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